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An evolutionary theory of the female orgasm

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Photo: Tracey Shaw/Pexels

teen vogue logoIt might seem obvious why the female orgasm exists: because it’s awesome, it feels good, and can even relieve stress. What other reason do we need? Well, apparently scientists wanted to know more—who wouldn’t?

When you think about it, the female orgasm has no real evolutionary purpose. The male orgasm has a very obvious one: ejaculation can lead to impregnating a female to continue the human race. For a long time, the female orgasm was a big mystery, and scientists have even called it an evolutionary accident.

Until now. According to Mic, researchers at Yale University and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital found that the female orgasm might have once helped ovulation, explaining why it exists biologically.

Ovulating is a key part of getting pregnant. When you ovulate, an egg falls from your ovary down your Fallopian tubes, where it’s ready to be fertilized. Just as male orgasms play a part in continuing the species, scientists now posit the female orgasm once did the same.

The study showed that the same hormones we release after an orgasm induced ovulation in other mammals that have similar pregnancy processes as humans. That allowed the researchers to determine that orgasms may have once induced ovulation in human females, making them key for pregnancy. Now, though, that role has changed and we just have orgasms because, well, why not?

“The scientists suggest that female orgasm may have evolved as an adaptation for a direct reproductive role—the reflex that, ancestrally, induced ovulation,” a press release on the study says. “This reflex became superfluous for reproduction later in evolution, freeing female orgasm for secondary roles.”

The study calls female orgasms a “happy afterthought” of evolution. To be honest, we can’t think of a happier accident.

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By Brittney McNamara for Teen Vogue
This post originally appeared on Teen Vogue